Thursday, September 22, 2011

Settling In

In just a few short weeks, Thistleglade already feels like home.  Hedgewyck taught us a great deal about living the life we’ve chosen.  I can’t help but smile when I realize how na├»ve we were when we first came.  Sure we’d tried to live self-sufficiently in Wyoming, but we were chained to our perceptions of how things should be.  Tied to the grid, we never considered how much water or power we were using.  It was seamless.  We’d turn on the faucet and hot water would flow.  So simple. We never considered the invisible dance that was going on behind the scenes. The pump turned on, drawing electricity from the grid.  Water flowed from under the ground and was pushed through an underground pipe to the house where it was heated with natural gas from yet another underground pipe.  Suddenly things don’t seem so simple after all.

Our perception is much different after a year of living off grid.  Each gallon of water has to be caught from the sky or hauled from somewhere.  I read somewhere that the average American household uses 40 gallons a day per person.  It takes us three weeks to use 250 gallons.  That’s about 6 gallons a day.  Yet we manage to take daily showers, wash dishes, do laundry, and cook.  We run a 1000 watt generator a few hours a day to charge the trailer batteries.  5 gallons of gasoline lasts a week.  We’re hoping to get a couple of solar panels to cut this down.  We heat water, run the refrigerator, and cook with propane.  A 20 pound bottle lasts just over a week. We  heat the trailer with wood and are working on ways to cook and heat water with wood as well.

Each step has required an adjustment.  Sometimes the transition was not easy.  The true challenge has been in examining our perceptions.  I always considered myself to have an open mind.  I never realized how immersed I was in “how things should be” until we started doing this.  We will never be able to just mindlessly turn on the hot water again.

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